Saturday, July 30, 2011

Doom Patrol #1 (August, 2004)

At the Watchtower, Martian Manhunter informed, "Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash... they have all returned to their homes on Earth. And you have been without sleep for at least seventy-two hours." Batman snorted, "I've gone longer, J'Onn." The Dark Knight Detective still didn't feel the Crucifer case was closed. When the Sleuth from Outer Space suggested the Doom Patrol was the loose string, Batman replied "No-- I trust Niles Caulder, their leader. I would not have let Faith go off with them if I didn't." One, trying to rehabilitate the Chief's sorry reputation by having making Batman say something that naive is just wrong, and two, boy is Batman bossy these days. "J'Onn... you know I wouldn't ask this unless I felt there was no other way. You're Martian telepathy... d'you think you could..." Yes, he said "d'you..."

The four-armed gorilla Nudge, his handler Nudge, Faith, and Vortex were forced to deal with debris from a battle raging inside the Doom Patrol's prison headquarters in Key Mordaz, Florida.

They learned after venturing inside that three of Caulder's inmates held in the prison were loose. An enlarged Rita Farr suddenly fell backwards through a wall. This set up a flashback to the cliffhanger at the end of the Doom Patrol's backdoor pilot JLA story arc "The Tenth Circle." The Chief was bound up on a wall surrounded by three vampires. In an expository flashback during an expository flashback, a punk metahuman kid explained that he had been helping Crucifer out with his wormhole powers, affording contact to the rest of the Circle and access to other dimensions. The punk was the reason Crucifer was able to teleport from Canada to Castle Crucifer, and how he himself had reached Florida. The punk released Caulder's three metahuman prisoners, and helped members of the Circle take possession of their bodies.

The Manhunter from Mars had mentally allowed Batman access to reflection on the previous battle with "crystal clarity." The Dark Knight realized that there was a missing metahuman working with Crucifer, and Green Lantern volunteered to help track him down. "Always impressive, John Stewart." All three were soon at Castle Crucifer, and before Batman could "jimmy" the lock, J'Onn J'Onzz passed immaterially through. One opened door later, and "Welcome, gentlemen. Enter freely, and of your own will." Stewart snickered, wondering when the Martian had gotten around to reading Dracula. J'Onzz missed the rhetorical element, and explained his familiarity with Earth culture after decades here.

The Manhunter's telepathy found the house deserted, until the punk kid turned up out of nowhere, followed by Negative Man. At first, the energy wraith tried to chat, but then screamed in pain and attacked J'Onn J'Onzz...

"Baptism of Blood" was by John Byrne with Doug Hazelwood. There's less dialogue than in the preceding Chris Claremont scripts, but Byrne on his own is no less corny. Jerry Ordway's inks are sorely missed, as the new embellishment hews too close to Byrne's rushed, loose, bland pencils. Faith is still dressed like trash, the villains could not be less generic, and the team pretty much shares a single milquetoast personality. Pity the poor reader who bought a first issue expecting more than to walk in on chapter seven of an uninspired story from an over the hill creator with a painfully out of date take on this "new" super-team.

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